Friday, June 25, 2010

Separated at Birth - Tanguango Twins

If you want to start an argument in the small world of Piazzolla geek culture, ask about the Tanguango twins. Are they really twins? or just brothers? or totally unrelated? Today's featured video is a very expertly done arrangement of the "first" Tanguango by Pablo Zinger as played by the Zinger Trio during their recent tour of Korea. This Tanguango was composed in 1949 for viola and piano - one of two movements in a work titled Dos Piezas Breves. It is very rarely heard Piazzolla - one of the few recordings is to be found on Allison Brewster Franzetti's, The Unknown Piazzolla.

The score for the piece performed by Ms. Franzetti is readily available from alma and I suspect that Zinger started from that score. But what you hear from the trio in the video is not that score but rather a showpiece of the art of arrangement. It is true to the spirit of the original but takes great advantage of the texture of the clarinet and cello in the trio and of the creative interpretive skills of the players Jose Franch-Ballester on clarinet and Young Song on cello (and, of course, Zinger on the piano). The trio has been featured in this blog before and their performances are always first rate but, to me, the star in this video is the arrangement which I hope is noticed by the classical music community.

But, what about the other twin? The "other" Tanguango was an arrangement created by Piazzolla in 1951 for his friend and mentor, Anibal Troilo. Or, perhaps Piazzolla wrote a second composition and just recycled the name Tanguango. To my ears, they share some of the same DNA - for example, a frequently repeated descending, four note Phryrgian mode scale (whole step, whole step, half step) and a number of rhythmic similarities - but at the same time, I must agree with those who argue that the flowing melodic interludes in the "other" are missing in the "first" Tanguango. Perhaps enough of a difference to make it a different composition. It will take a better musician than me resolve the question. Troilo was a traditional tango musician and my guess is that Piazzolla wrapped enough "tradition" around the "first" Tanguango to make it acceptable to Troilo. Even at that, as described in the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, many Troilo fans would not accept the piece and Troilo removed it from his playlist when pro- and anti-Piazzolla fans broke into a fight over the piece at a dance being played by Troilo's band.

To help you resolve the question about the twins, I have included below today's featured video a second video which includes a recording of Troilo playing the "other" Tanguango. If the Zinger video does not appear below, click here and for the Troilo video/audio, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

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